WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday announced plans for about $100 million in grants to boost recycling and waste management – its first major effort in these areas in 30 years.
The agency’s National Recycling Strategy is targeting a 50% recycling rate by 2030, compared with around 32% currently. The rate for recycling plastic waste is only about 5%.
It has selected 25 communities to receive over $70 million in grants to improve their recycling facilities and will offer another $32 million to states and territories to implement their own waste management plans.
“EPA is deploying resources to provide recycling services across the country, including in disadvantaged communities, while preventing waste that contributes to the climate crisis, supporting local economies and creating good-paying jobs,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement.
The grants were created through the passage of the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure bill.
The grants for communities range from $500,000 to $4 million and support a range of projects, from upgrading equipment at materials recovery facilities that sort single-stream collected recycling and trash to funding composting programs.
Those for states and territories range from $360,000 to $750,000 and are aimed at helping them develop or update solid waste management plans and strengthening data collection efforts.
U.S. plastic recycling rates have declined in tandem with a sharp drop in plastic waste exports, with countries like China and Turkey implementing plastic import bans. At the same time, per capita plastic waste in the U.S. has grown from 60 pounds per year in 1980 to 218 pounds in 2018 – a 263% increase.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)